Biafra's Reviews > A History of the World

A History of the World by Andrew Marr
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Jun 08, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: finished_2014, written_review

This book started off brilliantly, but ended in a flurry of historical perspective-seeking and opining about counterfactuals, lessons learned (or not) from history, and an unnecessary focus on current events. In the end, i gained the most from the earlier sections covering developments in the East and Africa along with descriptions of the rise of Islam and the developments of civilization in India.

While I wasn't expecting a completely unbiased account (given the author's nationality), the book ended up feeling very West-focused, especially in the later chapters. From around the 1400s on, it should have been title A History of the West for all the attention given to the dynastic struggles in China, transformations going on in Japan, changes being wrought by the Ottomans, to name a few. And there was embarrassingly little about the Americas if the USA is taken out of the picture.

Overall, a valiant effort, but the end focus on Kasparov vs. Deep Blue over developments elsewhere summarizes the faults of the book: in an effort to focus on great people and detail their life's struggles, it at times misses the greater changes going on in society and how society shaped and brought about such people.
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